"I cannot live without books." -- Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"David Bowie: Starman" by Paul Trynka

Two words, David Bowie. And its two words that i say to myself for the past 40 years or so. I wouldn't say I was obsessive about the man and his work, but for sure a fan. And I don't think he's a genius. I think he is a highly motivated hard worker who had to study his craft to become what he had become. Which, of course, is a great pop star - and an incredible singer. But also a wow gee songwriter. In other words he has the whole package. 
The theater world, the black american music world, the gay world, and of course the pure showbiz of it all that is one thing that separates Bowie from other rock artists - his love and respect for showbiz. He may grown to hate it, but he will never deny its special power over himself and his audience. 
My favorite part of the Bowie story is his young years trying to break into the pop music world. And he tried for at least 12 years before the Ziggy Stardust thing happened. No overnight success story here, but just a lot of hard work and hustling. And speaking of hustling, this bio really shines on the gay British pop music world of the early 60's. Bowie knew who was spreading the butter - and he played up to the expectations of that world. 
There are a lot of good books on Bowie and there will be more. But this is an exceptionally good biography on the man, and one still after reading it, wants to know more. And that is why he's a star.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"The Record Players: DJ REVOLUTIONARIES by Bill Brewster & Frank Broughton

Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton's previous book "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" is probably one of the best music orientated books ever. The mighty two here goes into the culture of the DJ with all its subtitles and layers of what that means. "Last Night..." deals with the history of someone playing a recording for someone else - and therefore many sub-cultures were invented for this purpose. I think what was remarkable about this book is that I had very little interest in DJ Music. But then I read the history..... Oh man its interesting. And totally open to anyone who likes to read about pop culture history. Excellent book. 
And now we have their "The Record Players" and it too is fascinating, but it is a weaker book due that we don't have the dynamic narrative to go with it. Yet, who gives a shit. This is an essential group of interviews with important and very top DJ's. Everything from late 50's British DJ's to Techno and beyond. What is conveyed in this book is the love of the recording and its music. A lot of the key people are interviewed such as John Peel, Tom Moulton, Jimmy Savile (yes even him!), Frankie Knuckles, Afrika Bambaaataa, Francois Kevorkian, and so on. So yeah get "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life" first, but then go to this one. One can smell the DJ Booth off the page.